LONG BEACH — The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are making adjustments in their operations in an effort to reduce the economic impact that the eight-day office clerical workers strike will have on port customers.
In fact, all members of the port community, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the marine terminal operators, seem to be pulling together to minimize disruptions that would be expected to follow an eight-day shutdown of a port complex that handles more than 14 million 20-foot container units a year.
The port authorities have notified their customers that containers idled at their facilities during the strike will not be subject to the normal storage charges, known as demurrage, that kick in after free time expires.
At the Port of Los Angeles, for example, an imported container is granted four days free time before demurrage is charged. An export container has six days free time. Long Beach has a similar tariff.
Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, notified terminal operators that the port has extended free time on all merchandise through Friday. Containers that were on the docks Nov. 27, at the beginning of the strike by the Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63, will not be charged demurrage. Seven container terminals in Los Angeles were shut down during the strike.
Long Beach notified its customers that the port is waiving its portion of cargo fees incurred or impacted by the forced terminal closures. Three terminals in Long Beach were idled by the strike. Long Beach advised cargo interests to contact their carriers, terminal operators or other service providers for more details on cargo fees.
Customs assigned more staff to the harbor when the terminals opened on Wednesday. Dan Meylor, customs administration manager at Carmichael International, said additional Customs personnel were manning the container examination stations and the scanning devices that Customs uses to search containers for weapons of mass destruction and contraband. Customs was clearing entry documentation efficiently, Meylor said.
Terminal operators throughout the harbor added early and late flex gates and will have night and weekend gates to dissipate the backlog.
Harbor truckers reported Thursday that the harbor was busy, but except for a few terminals, congestion was not a major problem. However, truckers are concerned that congestion could come back with a vengeance on Monday.
The new weekly rotation of vessels in the trans-Pacific will arrive over the weekend. Also, vessels that were diverted last week to Oakland to drop off Northern California cargo will be back in port. When those containers are mixed in with cargo being unloaded now from vessels that were sitting at anchor in the harbor, it appears the coming week will be especially busy at the ports.